Five Candidates Who Beat the Odds

For any candidate, credibility is a huge factor. Yet far too many political strategists and campaign personnel are quick to buy into the idea that certain people simply aren’t credible enough to run for office.

But recent political history begs to differ.

Here are five so-called unqualified candidates who ended up proving their naysayers wrong.

The Candidate: Heath Shuler, Representative for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District

The Naysayers: Many pointed to the former Tennessee Volunteers’ star quarterback first failure in Washington (as the Redskins starting quarterback) as a sign of how his political career would also turn out.

How He Beat the Odds: Shuler rode his conservative values to a shocking upset of eight-term incumbent Charles H. Taylor. 

The Takeaway: Success isn’t defined by how you start, but how you finish.

The Candidate: Sonny Bono, Mayor of Palm Springs, CA; Representative for California’s 44th Congressional District

The Naysayers: Bono’s opponents argued his celebrity status as a former singing sensation made it next to impossible to relate to the general public.

How He Beat the Odds: Bono affected great change both as mayor and as a California congressional representative.

The Takeaway: Hard work isn’t exclusive to any particular social class.

The Candidate: Tom Osborne, Representative for Nebraska’s 3rd Congressional District

The Naysayers: Critics painted the Cornhusker coaching legend as something of a ‘good-ole-boy,’ part of an out-of-touch generation.

How He Beat the Odds: Osborne earned respect for working with opponents from the other side of the aisle to promote causes he believed in.

The Takeaway: Being open-minded breeds trust.

The Candidate: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of California

The Naysayers: Many tried to paint the action movie star as a lightweight in the political world.

How He Beat the Odds: Despite being viewed as a staunch conservative, Schwarzenegger’s actions in office touched a much wider moderate base.

The Takeaway: Never underestimate someone because of their background.

The Candidate: Ronald Reagan, Governor of California, President of the United States

The Naysayers: Critics claimed the former actor was far too rigid to allow for compromise.

How He Beat the Odds: After winning the Presidency in 1980, Reagan would go on to be one of the key political figures of the late 20th century.

The Takeaway: Standing firm is what gets things done.

The Bottom Line: If you think someone may be unelectable, think again. Each of the lessons learned from the aforementioned examples proves otherwise.   

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